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Friday, September 6, 2013

Drug Use Booming Among Baby Boomers

Posted By on Fri, Sep 6, 2013 at 12:03 PM

click to enlarge A generational thing
  • A generational thing

The old folks are showing the kids these days how it's done. That is, people over 50 are turning to drugs more so than their kids and grandkids.

Drug use among people aged 50 to 64 has "doubled" over the past decade, according to the U.S. government.

Of the 23.9 million Americans who are current drug users, 7.2 percent of people between 50 and 64 years old reported using illicit drugs -- which is still less than the nearly 10 percent of "children and teenagers" who use illegal drugs, according to an annual survey of drug use.

The most-popular drug is, of course: good old marijuana, with almost 19 million American tokers from sea to shining sea.

For people aged 55 to 59, use of illegal drugs has "tripled," according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration national survey, which is conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The release of the report is timed with "National Recovery Month," which is to say that the drug use above isn't considered recreational -- it's considered trouble.

Researchers point out, as they are wont to do, the negative effects marijuana use has on a developing brain. The gateway drug theory was also on display.

At a press conference to unveil the survey's results, two recovering addicts recounted tales of moving from marijuana onto heroin or pills.

"In 1997, at age 12, [28-year old Daniel LaPointe] won a contest for writing an essay titled "Why I Won't Try Drugs." A month later, suffering from insecurities and depression, he started smoking marijuana, which ultimately led him to heroin and, as he put it, "the funerals of five good friends."

Tough stuff. But the silver lining is that despite 9.2 percent of Americans being users of illegal drugs, only about 9 million people nationwide use illegal drugs other than cannabis, the survey showed.

Next to marijuana, the most-abused drugs are prescription pills. About 7 million people reported using these drugs in an "illicit" fashion -- which means everyone else on them has a prescription. Which is... good?

Read the study for yourself here.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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